Redeeming a Mandated Hibernation: Ideas for Holy Week

thumb2-gold-pocket-watch-in-hands-time-concepts-clock-in-hands-time-pocket-watchLike most people right now, I have a bit more time on my hands than I usually do. However, I find that the saying that’s been around for a long time has merit: nature abhors a vacuum. In other words, where there is a space, something will fill it. I have discovered that I have been able to fill my time sheltering at home with an unequal measure of work, projects, time-fillers, and time-wasters. But, to be honest, I don’t want to look back on this time and think – wow – I sure could have used that time differently.

And so, I’ve started thinking about ways to use the mandated time at home wisely. Not only do I want to contribute to the greater good by doing what it takes to flatten the curve, but I want to emerge from our mandated hibernation a bit better – as a person, as a husband, dad, and pastor, than I was before. I’ve got a lot of work to do on the human side of the curve – especially when it comes to the fact that I am a person of faith. And, to be honest, even as a person that is considered professional clergy, I can get a bit rough around the edges – a bit too relaxed in my own devotional life – in my own spiritual growth.

And now, like many people, I find myself with time on my hands just before Holy Week and I think – well – this is the perfect time to really zero in on ways to delve deeply into the Passion of Christ and to use this time to grow in a deeper appreciation for all that Christ has done. And I thought, maybe, you may want to do something similar.

Holy Week


And so, today’s devotional is a bit different. Rather than focus on a passage or passages of the Bible, I’m going to offer some ideas for Holy Week. Holy Week begins on Sunday – with Palm Sunday. It is the day that we mark Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But the week itself comprises a few different elements that will allow you to delve into things in a deeper sort of way.

So, I’m planning to do something each day that focuses on an aspect of Holy Week. I plan to trace the work and movement of Jesus each day of Holy Week through a careful reading of the Gospels. Of course, on Palm Sunday, I’ll have a devotion here, but I’ll also spend some time reading over that event in the Gospel of Luke – most likely. But there are also things that happened on Monday – Wednesday – as well as Thursday through Sunday. One thing I’m planning to do next week is to spend time using texts from those days in the life of Christ with Lectio Divina (which I mentioned a few days ago). But I also plan to use music and art and silence as part of my devotional time. And, I plan to reach out to some of my family and friends – folks at church – through Zoom, Facetime, and phone calls – specifically just to pray together.

I will not go through a lot of detail on this video but if you want to take a look at things on you’ll see a detailed list of suggested texts, and some songs with video links.

Rembrandt Prodigal-600x844As you think about next week and the time that you may have on your hands, I hope you’ll take some of that time and join me in delving deeper into all that Jesus did for us. I believe with all my heart that if we can somehow focus our hearts and minds on Jesus, we will be better people. Because I know that if folks could just see Jesus for who He is – without all the baggage that so many people hang on him – they would beat down the doors to get to what Jesus has to offer.

It is my prayer and hope that the Lord Jesus will bless you and keep you and make himself known to you in a rich and deep way. Amen.

From this point forward, I am providing some resources for delving deeper into Jesus through Holy Week. I’m including a list of texts that you may consider reading each day next week. You may find Lectio Divina a helpful Bible study tool as well. I am also including a list of songs that you may want to use.

One thing that is important to note, the Gospels were not focused so much on chronological order as they were about telling the world about Jesus. The texts as I have put them here with the day of the week is simply to help in focusing attention on Jesus.

Passion Narratives: The following texts will walk you through the night that Jesus was betrayed and His crucifixion. You may want to take some time, starting on Tuesday to read one of these 4 passages every day or follow the days of the week: Matthew 26:30–27:66; Mark 14:26–15:47; Luke 22:39–23:56; John 18:1–19:42.


King of Glory – Chris Tomlin –
O Worship the King – Chris Tomlin
All Hail the Power of Jesus Name – Bishop Clarence E. McClendon –
Be Thou My Vision – For Him –
Hallelujah What a Savior – Fox and Hounds –
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us – Fernando Ortega –
Alas and Did My Savior Bleed –
And Can It Be That I Should Gain?
Oh the Deep Deep Love of Jesus – Simon Khorolskiy

For Palm Sunday: This is the day we focus on Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. He rides in a young donkey, which signifies peace – bringing with him a cheering crowd.

Matthew 21:1–9; Zechariah 9:9; Isaiah 62:11
Mark 11:1–10; Zechariah 14:4; Psalm 118:21-27
Luke 19:29–40; Habakkuk 2:11; Psalm 118:21-27
John 12:12–15; Revelation 7:9; Zechariah 9:9

On Monday: Jesus cleanses the temple, children gather around him, and he cursed the fig tree: Matthew 21:12–16 (Psalm 8:1-2); Mark 11:15–26 (Isa 56:7); Luke 19:45–47 (Isa 56:7); John 2:14–16 (Ps 69:8-11).

On Tuesday Jesus challenges the Pharisees and Sadducees over marriage, taxes, His authority, the widow’s mite, he’s approached by some Greeks, and he speaks of 8 woes, and gave what’s known as His Olivet Discourse: Matthew 21:23—23:39; Mark 11:27—12:44; Luke 20:1—21:4; Mark 12; Luke 21; John 12:20–36; Matthew 23:13–36; Matthew 24—25; Mark 13; Luke 21:5–36.

On Wednesday or Spy Wednesday, Mary took a pound of pure ointment made from nard and she placed it on Jesus: Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9; John 12:1–8; Luke 7:37–39. This day is sometimes called Spy Wednesday because it is thought to be the day that Judas conspired to turn Jesus over for 30 pieces of silver.

On Maundy Thursday, Jesus and his disciples met in the Upper Room. It is here that Jesus not only washes his disciples’ feet – to highlight the sort of servant leadership they are to immolate – he also administers what we refer to as the Lord’s Supper and gives us a new commandment – that we love one another. I recommend reading through the Upper Room Discourse in John 13-17.

Good Friday: Today should be a somber day. You may want to spend some time reading Jesus on the crossthrough one of the passion narratives again. You may want to spend time going through the final words of Jesus on the cross and either listen to or sing the hymns that accompany the text or use the prayer.

1st Word is from Luke 23:32-34  – “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Listen and or sing – “What Wondrous Love Is This”

2nd Word is from Luke 23:35-43 – “This day you will be with me in Paradise.”  Prayer – “Lord Jesus Christ, Remember us when You come into Your kingdom. Remember us, not for our impressive accomplishments nor for the virtues we occasionally display. Remember us as one of the criminal community who hung at Your side. Remember us as those in need of Your mercy and grace. In Your mercy, hear our prayer.

3rd Word is from John 19:25-27 – “Woman, behold your son.” Prayer – “O blessed Savior, Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, As You cared for Your family then, continue to care for Your family now, For all our brothers and sisters who live in fear or in hunger or in need. Grant us the compassion to love as You love. In Your mercy, hear our prayer.”

4th Word is from Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:34 “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” – “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.”

5th Word is from John 19:28-29 – “I thirst.” Prayer – “O blessed Savior, Whose lips were dry and whose throat was parched, grant us the water of life. For all of us who hunger and thirst for righteousness, May we taste of Your love and mercy now and evermore. Lord, hear our prayer.”

6th Word is from John 19:30 “It is finished.” (John 19:30)- “Alas and Did My Savior Bleed.”

7th Word is from Luke 23:44-46 – “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Prayer – “Lord Jesus, You were nailed to the cross by the hands of godless men. Now You are safe in the hands of Your loving Father. Grant us grace to find our ultimate security in life and in death where You found Yours, in the hands of our Father. Amen.”

Holy Saturday: This is the day we often reflect on Christ in the tomb. This too, is a somber time. Text for Saturday: Matthew 27:59-60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53-54; John 19:39-42.

christ empty tombEaster Sunday: Today is an awesome day! It is time to celebrate. It is time to give the Lord praise and thanks. Mark this day by reading over the texts of Christ’s resurrection. Sing. Praise the Lord! Christ is Risen. He is Risen Indeed! Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,19; 1 Corinthians 15.

Suggested Hymns: Christ the Lord Is Risen Today; Crown Him with Many Crowns; Up from the Grave He Arose.

2 thoughts on “Redeeming a Mandated Hibernation: Ideas for Holy Week”

  1. May I ask a question? So Saturday is to be somber due to Christ being in the grave. I do not know the origin of the Apostles’ Creed but I think it says Jesus descended into hell before rising again. Would you explain that further for me?

    By the way, I am learning a lot. Thank you got doing this.


    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Tracy,
      I’m sorry for just now getting back to you on this. Your question is a good one – and one that folks have pondered over for a long time. In fact, there was a lady at my church who refused to say that part of the creed – still does even after I explained it. First and foremost, it isn’t saying that Jesus went to hell in the way we think of hell. We think of hell as the final place of retribution for people who reject God. But this part of the creed comes in sometime in the late 3rd and early 4th century. They put that part in the creed because they were dealing with Gnosticism which denied that Jesus died. So – they were trying to affirm that Jesus actually suffered both physically and spiritually and that he went to hell (Sheol) – where the righteous dead awaited deliverance and the gospel.

      At the same time, the 4th-century folks – and even folks today – see that Christ’s descent into hell (Sheol) means that he bore the weight of God’s wrath and by his descent into hell death and sin have been overcome. Even the word descent doesn’t necessarily mean “down” like we think but rather it means a lower place in worth or dignity. That whole line is pointing to the fact that Christ suffered beyond the physical. He endured Sheol – and conquered even the darkest places.

      I hope that helps a bit – thanks for asking – and thanks for reading. I’m glad you are –

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